On maternity leave
Bachelor of Arts, NUI Maynooth; HDip in Public Relations and Internal Communications, Fitzwilliam Institute
Hibernia College Student of the Year Award
Why did you choose teaching and why Hibernia College?
Young people are incredible, and to be afforded the opportunity to help shape their futures, through academic achievement, well-being and guidance practices, is a dream come true. Getting to do this, while teaching the two subjects I love, English and Geography, has allowed me to have a truly fulfilling career — one where I hope to really make a difference. It’s because of Hibernia College’s flexible, online, blended learning approach that I have had the opportunity to achieve this.
What field of work or study were you in before you started your PME?
I’ve spent the last ten years working in Multinational Corporate Communications as a writer, editor, strategic content manager, video producer, graphic designer, voice-over artist — you name it! Working in this space was an incredible time of my life, and I was fortunate to partner and learn from some immensely talented people. This experience afforded me opportunities to put into practice some of the key curricular components taught inside the English classroom and allowed me to develop a deep appreciation of the fundamental elements of the English Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate curriculum in industry. During my time as a ‘Creative’, I cultivated essential skills needed by teachers, such as fostering relationships and creating and presenting engaging, purposeful, result-driven content; this was guided by a deep-rooted mission to always keep the audience at the centre of my practice. These transferrable skills have served me well inside the classroom and have helped me to create inclusive pedagogies that draw students in through active learning, ensuring they become a part of their own learning experience.
Can you tell us a bit about your research project and why you focused on this area?
As an English graduate, I have long lauded the importance of literature and stories, far beyond that of a pastime. I believe that through the study of English, students can learn self-expression, acceptance and resilience — all essential components of well-being. My school placement took place in the middle of the pandemic, and a concern amongst the teaching community was that students were struggling and that this was becoming a barrier to their learning experience. This made me consider the importance of well-being in the curriculum and challenged me to consider ways in which I could foster a sense of well-being in my own classroom. My research, therefore, aimed to investigate several approaches to the promotion of well-being in the English classroom using core curriculum modules such as writing, storytelling, literature and drama, with the intent of investigating if they could contribute meaningfully to student development. The study also aimed to use existing frameworks and modules so as not to burden teachers with an additional load, making it more achievable. This research led to a wealth of learning and greatly added to my understanding of the importance of well-being and the teacher’s role and limitations in supporting student well-being inside their classroom.
Now that you have graduated, what are your plans?
As I write this, I am enjoying day eight with my second daughter Róisín. I plan on enjoying the next few months with her (reading her baby Shakespeare!) while continuing to stay on top of the latest research on pedagogies and, in particular, research related to areas of well-being. I have subscribed to many Junior Cycle for Arts programmes over the coming months to keep up to date and will continue to work with the State Examinations to gain more insight into the examination process. While I am cherishing every minute of maternity leave, I also cannot wait to get back to school next year.
What piece of advice would you give to any person considering starting a PME?
Walking into a classroom in Coláiste Mhuire, Buttevant, Cork for the first time, for me, solidified my decision to become a teacher. The experience and tactical knowledge I gained was supported by the incredible staff and students of the school and was fostered through their culture of care and a strong sense of community. I was fortunate to not only have this network of experienced and talented teachers to help me on my journey, but also the support of the College and the wonderful students in our cohort who were always helping each other out with questions, concerns and frequent motivational GIFs! If you have a passion for teaching, follow your dreams and surround yourself with people who can help you on your journey.